PCSO Julia James' fight for life captured on Apple Watch as killer denies murder

9 May 2022, 15:09 | Updated: 9 May 2022, 16:29

Julia James died in April last year whilst walking her dog
Julia James died in April last year whilst walking her dog. Picture: PA/Kent Police

By Daisy Stephens

The moment Julia James tried to make her escape from her killer was captured in heart rate and walking speed data recorded by her Apple Watch in the day she died, Canterbury Crown Court heard.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Prosecutor Alison Morgan QC told jurors her movements and biometrics were being tracked by the device as she walked into the woodland where she was killed.

Ms Morgan said: "We saw now the pace she was going at and the moment her pace radically changed and that's plotted by the data from her own watch."

She added: "We also know about her heart rate. A relatively stable heart rate through the part when she was walking. That at 14:30 and 36 seconds her heart rate was 97 beats per minute."

Ms Morgan QC said moments later it had "launched" to 145 beats per minute, adding: "And that launch is something I will come back to as to where she was and details the escape she was doubtless trying to make at that moment.

"It was at that point that her heart rate surged."

Read more: Limping Putin huddles under a blanket in desperate bid to rally Russia on Victory Day

Read more: 'Shambles' at the airports: Passengers face flight chaos with queues stretching outside

Callum Wheeler, 22, admitted he killed police community support officer Julia James but denied her murder, jurors were told.

The court heard Mrs James, 53, was killed with a metal railway jack last April.

Opening the trial of Mr Wheeler, Ms Morgan said that Mrs James was ambushed in woodland near her home in Snowdown, Kent on April 27 last year.

She told the jury: "The evidence suggests that her attacker was waiting in the woods for someone to attack and then ambushed her.

"Julia tried to escape her attacker but she was subjected to a brutal and fatal attack.

"She suffered catastrophic injuries and died where she fell."

Ms Morgan said it is the prosecution's case "that there is a large body of evidence from a variety of sources that demonstrate that the attacker was this defendant Callum Wheeler."

She told the court: "Although he denied responsibility for the killing for some time, he does now accept that he was the person that killed Julia James, however he does not accept that he is guilty of the offence of murder."

Mrs James died on April 27 2021
Mrs James died on April 27 2021. Picture: PA

Ms Morgan on Monday told the jury the metal railway jack was later found in the defendant's home.

She said to the jury: "A heavy blunt object was used to murder Julia James and when we come on to consider her injuries you will understand why it must have been an object of that type that killed her.

"In fact the prosecution alleges, and there may now be no dispute, that the weapon was a large railway jack."

She added: "That item was found in [Mr Wheeler's] bedroom."

Read more: Over 2m people go whole days without eating as charity slams 'failing society'

Read more: Rattled Starmer pulls out of major speech amid Beergate 'hypocrisy' claims

Mrs James had seen the man alleged to be her killer a number of times in the woods where she was killed in the months prior to her death, the court heard.

Ms Morgan QC told the jury that Wheeler repeatedly visited Ackholt Wood, where Mrs James would regularly walk her dog.

She said: "On one of those earlier occasions when he was in Ackholt Wood, he saw and was seen by Julia James herself."

She later added Mrs James "was herself aware of the presence of a strange male", who she described to her husband, Paul James, as a "really weird dude".

She later pointed out the male, alleged to have been Wheeler, to Mr James during a walk together in February 2021, around two months before her death.

Mrs James had seen the man alleged to be her killer a number of times, the court was told
Mrs James had seen the man alleged to be her killer a number of times, the court was told. Picture: Kent Police

Jurors were also played footage from police body-worn video of an encounter between officers and Wheeler when he dialled 999 on April 17, 10 days before Mrs James died.

Ms Morgan told the jury: "He did not give a coherent reason for calling the police and he did not invite the police officers into his property."

The footage showed Wheeler telling the officers "get lost mate" and "I'm not talking to you", before his father reassured them he was OK.

Ms Morgan said: "You may think that the footage of this visit shows the defendant to be behaving oddly" and told the court that he had been reluctant to have "any meaningful conversation with the police".